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Nigerian students issued smart cards for exams

Andrew Hudson   ||   May 06, 2015  ||   

A new mobile ID system for students is being implemented in Nigeria in an effort to improve exam validation processes and cut down on identity fraud. The West African Examinations Council is spearheading the project along with HID Global who will provide machine-readable smart cards to the more than 2.2 million Nigerian students that will enroll in the testing program.

Comprised of five member countries – Nigeria, Gambia, Sierra Leone, Ghana and Liberia – The West African Examinations Council conducts public exams for primary, junior and senior secondary school levels; aptitude tests for institutions and corporate bodies; and issues results and certificates of completion for all administered exams. Each year, WAEC registers more than 2.2 million students for exams conducted at more than 13,000 testing centers across Nigeria alone.

A new system

Prior to the new system, exam registration and authorization was manual, time consuming and susceptible to fraud. Students registered online and were provided a paper receipt that would be manually inspected by a proctor at the time of testing. The system lacked a secure process to confirm that students were who they claimed to be.

Understandably, tracking and recording cases of identity fraud was difficult under these circumstances, so a new system was needed. WAEC turned to Lagos, Nigeria-based tech company, Botosoft, who commissioned HID Global to assist with the development and deployment of a secure card issuance and mobile ID system.

The solution to WAEC’s problem came in the form of online registration for an ID card that could then be read using a mobile device at each exam site. These cards would be valid only for the exam being held for that particular semester and expire immediately on completion of the final test. Without a valid card, students would not be allowed to take their exams.

As for getting the cards into students’ hands, WAEC needed a secure issuance system that could print as many as 1.8 million cards in the spring term and another 400,000 cards in the autumn. The cards also needed to be checked and authenticated at the examinations sites by local officials.

HID provided a custom solution that accepts the raw data from WAEC’s online enrollment process, validates the information, and prepares it for use in personalizing the cards at Botosoft’s facility. HID also assisted with the design and development of the mobile reader application software used in the project.

A new process

Under the new system students register online, only the information is now used to personalize and issue a machine-readable smart card to each student. This same information is also stored in a central biometric database that can be accessed in real-time by the mobile readers at the time of the exam.

To date, more than 15,000 mobile readers have been distributed to some 3,500 exam centers throughout Nigeria, enabling supervisors to identify and authenticate test takers by accessing student information from the HID smart card and validating it against the central database. Additionally, information about the testing process including date, time and the name of the testing center, is added to the student’s online records.

The WAEC student ID card features the name and photograph of the student and must be must presented to exam proctors at the exam center upon request. As an added layer of security, the cards feature multiple embedded technologies not visible to the naked eye, including:

  • An integrated contactless chip
  • A UV blue WAEC logo
  • Guilloche graphics
  • Micro-text
  • Warped patterns with faded edges
  • Text relief, two-color over print
  • Faded photo box edges overlapping with personalized photos

To aid in the personalization and issuance of the new identification cards, HID provided both software and hardware solutions including FARGO DTC4500 and 4500 ID card printers/encoders. HID also provided hands-on training and support to the Botosoft production team.

For more information on the WAEC project, see HID’s full case study.

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